The prize pool for The International 10, Valve Software’s Dota 2 tournament, recently passed the $30 million mark, putting it well ahead of last year, up by $10 million compared to 2018’s prize pool, and ahead of the Fortnite World Cup. Much of the prize pool for Valve’s MOBA title is driven by players who spend on in-game items, as 25% of sales from the battle pass or eligible cosmetic items go directly into the pool.
As noted by Forbes, there has been an increase in spending recently on the battle pass thanks to the release of the Immortal Treasure II items. Additionally, with Valve’s implementation of a loot box system for Dota 2, players can continue spending on in-game items but not immediately get the items they desire. While The International 10 has been delayed into 2021 due to COVID-19, the prize pool is likely to grow to the largest in esports history.
Impressive as that may be, prize pools tell just one part of the story. With the MOBA genre (and esports as a whole) dominated by Riot Games’ League of Legends, Valve’s Dota 2 doesn’t quite have the awareness it needs to generate more mainstream interest. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, the Dota franchise has much lower awareness among esports viewers than other esports games, with about one in five (21%) having no awareness of the game. Conversely, only 11% of esports viewers are unaware of League of Legends. Nonetheless, while Dota may not have quite the same brand cachet as League, its viewership has been growing, as The International 2019 was Twitch’s most-watched Dota 2 event ever.